Last year, comedian Mo Amer put Alief in the national glare with his Netflix TV series called “Mo.” Alief scenes and cultures are the backdrop as the main character, played by Amer, grows into adulthood in a family of Middle Eastern immigrants. Which is how he was raised.
Now another man from Alief who has gained far-reaching recognition in the arts has put part of the International Management District in the national and international spotlights.
All because of a Vietnamese breakfast dish that features steak and eggs.
He is Bryan Washington, a fiction writer, memoirist and New York Times Magazine columnist who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and is listed as a Rice University assistant professor in creative writing.
Washington’s latest piece for the Times — which has almost 10 million paying readers— is about a breakfast dish called bò né.
The headline calls it “A Dish That’s a Dream to Wake Up To.”
The article may also be a dream come true for Bò Né Houston Cafe, a strip center Vietnamese restaurant at 11694 Bellaire Blvd. Washington calls it his favorite stop for the protein and cholesterol bomb of a meal.
“The original best steak and eggs,” said a sign on the restaurant when it recently moved to its new spot from elsewhere along the Bellaire corridor.
Washington gets down to the details of the dish with this passage: “Marinated meat is cooked in a special cast-iron pan alongside fried eggs and served with herbs, baguette, pâté and butter. It’s usually served for breakfast, alongside a salad and an assortment of condiments, but there are as many ways to partake in bò né as there are diners to order it.”
The recipe published alongside his article calls for marinating strips of flank steak in garlic, shallots, red chile, Maggi sauce and sugar; cooking the meat in a skillet; then cracking eggs to cook alongside it, with strips of white onion on the opposite side.
The side salad ingredients are cucumber, lettuce and onion in a dressing of fish sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, chile and water.
The writer acknowledges that other Vietnamese restaurants in southwest Houston make wonderful versions of the dish. His list includes My Baguettes, which is also in the International Management District at 10613 Bellaire Blvd.
But Washington saves a misty-eyed statement for Bò Né Houston Cafe, whose deep red walls offset an otherwise basic interior.
“Sometimes, I think this restaurant is one of the things keeping me around town,” he enthuses. “The space is warm and inviting, allowing the mornings to accumulate toward years, until the one thing that hasn’t changed is the deliciousness conjured on its stoves.”
Bò Né Houston
11694 Bellaire Blvd.
Open 8 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. (earlier close on Sundays)
10613 Bellaire Blvd, A-125
Open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends, closed Tuesdays
— By Alan Bernstein